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Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords
Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords


Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949

6.178  Under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 certain public bills may be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. The Acts do not apply to bills originating in the Lords, bills to extend the life of a Parliament beyond five years, provisional order confirmation bills, private bills or delegated legislation. The conditions which must be fulfilled before a bill can be presented for Royal Assent under the Acts vary according to whether or not the bill is certified by the Speaker as a money bill.


6.179  A money bill is a bill endorsed with the signed certificate of the Speaker that it is a money bill because in the Speaker's opinion it contains only provisions dealing with national, but not local, taxation, public money or loans or their management. The certificate of the Speaker is conclusive for all purposes. If a money bill, which has been passed by the Commons and sent up to the Lords at least one month before the end of a session, is not passed by the Lords without amendment within a month after it is sent to them, the bill shall, unless the Commons direct to the contrary, be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. This does not debar the Lords from amending such bills provided they are passed within the month, but the Commons are not obliged to consider the amendments. On a few occasions minor amendments have been made by the Lords to such bills and have been accepted by the Commons.


6.180  If the Lords reject any other public bill to which the Acts apply which has been sent up from the Commons in two successive sessions, whether of the same Parliament or not, then that bill shall, unless the Commons direct to the contrary, be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. The bill must be sent up to the Lords at least one calendar month before the end of each session; and one year must elapse between second reading in the Commons in the first session and the passing of the bill by the Commons in the second. The Lords are deemed to have rejected a bill if they do not pass it, either without amendment or with such amendments only as are acceptable to the Commons. The effect of the Parliament Acts is that the Lords have power to delay enactment of a public bill until the session after that in which it was first introduced and until at least 13 months have elapsed from the date of second reading in the Commons in the first session.

Supply bills

6.181  Supply bills, or bills of aids and supplies, such as Consolidated Fund Bills and Finance Bills, may be passed or rejected by the Lords but, since the supply is granted by the House of Commons, the Lords are debarred from offering any amendment. Consequently the committee stage is negatived. Proceedings on Consolidated Fund Bills are always taken formally;[323] Finance Bills are usually debated on second reading and their subsequent stages taken formally.

6.182  When these bills have been passed by the Lords, they are returned to the Commons if Royal Assent is to be signified by Commission, and are brought up by the Speaker and receive Royal Assent before, and in a different form from, all other bills.[324]

6.183  A supply bill may, or may not, be certified as a "money bill" within the meaning of s. 1(2) of the Parliament Act 1911. Finance Bills, which are supply bills, are frequently not certified as money bills.

Separate subjects

6.184  The right of the Lords to reject a supply bill includes the right to omit supply provisions from a bill when such provisions form a "separate subject" from the general object of the bill, which the Lords are otherwise entitled to amend.

6.185  For example the Lords amended Part III of the Land Commission Bill 1966-67 (which provided for a betterment levy). The Lords amended the part in committee although it concerned supply, but then left it out in its entirety on third reading, since it would have been an infringement of Commons financial privilege to return the bill with that part concerning supply amended. This gave the Commons the opportunity to restore the entire separate subject to the bill with amendments, including some of the Lords amendments made in committee.


6.186  Commons financial privilege debars the Lords from amending supply bills. In order that the Commons should not abuse their financial privilege by including in such bills provisions unconnected with supply, the Lords passed a resolution in 1702 condemning the abuse of "tacking". It is now embodied in SO 53.[325]

Consolidation bills

6.187  Consolidation bills, which are invariably introduced in the House of Lords, are bills that fall into the following categories:

6.188  Almost all such bills now fall within categories (a) to (c).

6.189  Bills which re-enact in the form in which they apply to Scotland the provisions of United Kingdom Acts,[326] and consequential provisions bills which, although not consolidation bills, contain ancillary provisions normally found in a consolidation bill and form part of a consolidation,[327] have also on occasion been specifically referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills on motion. If the motion is agreed to, a message is sent to the Commons to ask for their agreement. The Committee also considers any affirmative instrument which, but for the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1974, would have been enacted by a consolidation bill, whether public or private, or by a statute law revision bill.[328]

6.190  On second reading the Lord in charge of the bill, usually the Lord Chancellor, may indicate to the House the category into which each bill falls. The bill is then automatically referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.


6.191  The Committee consists of 12 Members of each House, the Lords Members being appointed by the House, on a sessional basis, on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. It is traditionally chaired by a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. The function of the Committee is to assure itself that all the provisions of a bill fall properly within one of the categories previously indicated, and to report thereon to each House. After taking evidence from the draftsmen responsible and any departmental or other witnesses, the Committee reports the bill to the House of Lords with or without amendment. Where amendments are made by the Joint Committee, bills are usually reprinted as amended. Whether or not amended, they are then recommitted to a Committee of the whole House. Thereafter consolidation bills follow the same course as other public bills.

6.192  Amendments may be moved in the House to bills that have been referred to the Joint Committee, provided that they are restricted to the class of amendment that could have been moved in the Joint Committee.


6.193  Where the same stage of several linked consolidation bills is to be considered by the House, the Lord in charge may, with notice (given by means of an italic note on the Order Paper), move the bills en bloc if no amendments to them have been tabled. Any Member may, however, propose that the bills be taken separately to the extent desired. The House can also resolve itself into a committee on recommitment in respect of several consolidation bills at once in order to debate any amendments tabled; the committee reports only when all the bills have been considered. In this case the procedure is applied by business of the House motion.[329]

Tax law rewrite bills

6.194  Tax law rewrite bills[330] are intended to make the language of tax law simpler, but they preserve the effect of the existing law, subject to any minor changes which may be desirable. Such bills are introduced into the House of Commons, and are normally certified by the Speaker as money bills. A joint committee of the two Houses considers the bills after second reading in the Commons and the joint committee's report is laid before both Houses before the bill proceeds further in the Commons. In the Lords the committee stage of a tax law rewrite bill, being a money bill, is normally negatived.


6.195  The chairman of the joint committee is a member of the House of Commons. Given the subject matter of tax law rewrite bills, procedure in the joint committee follows the procedure of select committees in the Commons, where such procedure differs from that of select committees in the Lords. The chairman has power to select amendments to the bill.

Hybrid bills

6.196  Hybrid bills are public bills which are considered to affect specific private or local interests, in a manner different from the private or local interests of other persons or bodies of the same class, thus attracting the provisions of the Standing Orders applicable to private business (see paragraph 7.05, page 156).


6.197  Each bill introduced in the Lords is examined by the Public Bill Office to see whether it may affect any private interests to which protection is given by the Standing Orders. If, prima facie, this is found to be so, an order is made referring the bill to the Examiners, and the second reading of the bill cannot be moved until the report of the Examiners has been received, although notice of second reading of the bill may be entered in the Order Paper. In the case of a Commons bill, an order is made for it to be referred to the Examiners if it was so referred by that House.[331]

6.198  It is open to any Member who considers that a public bill may be hybrid, or has become hybrid as a result of any amendment made to it (see below), to move that the bill be referred to the Examiners. Such a motion is usually moved immediately before second reading, but may be moved with notice between stages at any time before third reading.


6.199  If the Examiners report that no standing orders are applicable, the bill may proceed on its ordinary course.

6.200  However, if the Examiners find that the standing orders relating to private business are applicable, the bill is a hybrid bill, and (unless the House orders otherwise) an order of the House is made providing for petitions against the bill to be deposited by a given date.


6.201  If no petitions are deposited against the bill, the bill proceeds as a public bill in the usual way. If petitions are deposited, the bill is committed after second reading to a select committee.


6.202  Since the bill is a public bill, and has been affirmed in principle on second reading, the preamble does not have to be proved before the select committee; but in other respects the committee broadly follows the procedure of a select committee on an opposed private bill (see paragraph 7.36, page 161). When the bill is reported from the select committee it is recommitted to a Committee of the whole House and thereafter follows the usual course of a public bill. The bill is reprinted as amended by the select committee and the amendments are also printed separately.


6.203  A bill may become prima facie hybrid as a result of an amendment made to it (and a hybrid bill may be amended in such a way as to affect private or local interests not previously affected). If an amendment is agreed to which, in the opinion of the Public Bill Office, has such an effect, the bill may be referred to the Examiners before its next stage, on a motion moved by the Chairman of Committees.

Provisional Order Confirmation Bills

6.204  For Provisional Order Confirmation Bills, see paragraph 7.68, page 168.

323   Procedure 3rd Rpt 1992-93. Back

324   See appendix H, page 233. Back

325   LJ (1701-05) 185. Back

326   LJ (1972-73) 383. Back

327   Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills 4th Rpt 1987-88. Back

328   SO 52. Back

329   Procedure 2nd Rpt 1991-92. Back

330   Procedure 4th Rpt 1999-2000. These bills were formerly known as "tax simplification bills". Back

331   Private Business SO 84. Back

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